Blade Runner Redux: Teaching a Sci-Fi Meta-Art Classic

byClary W. Carleton

This curriculum unit provides a guide to teaching Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and the film adaptation, Ridley Scott's Blade Runner. Both texts explore ethical and philosophical ideas related to artificial intelligence. Because the unit is intended for a mixed-level, mixed-grade English class, it could be adapted to a variety of teaching settings. For English teachers unfamiliar with these works, the unit articulates a rationale for teaching by enhancing students' critical thinking, close reading, oral language, and writing skills.

Unlike other adaptation histories, it is the achievement of the film that has inspired a reassessment of the novel. The unit will approach the film as an artistic accomplishment in its own right, rather than as a mere supplement to the novel. Students will explore issues surrounding the idea of adaptation itself, empowering them to consider how and why stories change, and the impact of the medium through which they are conveyed.

Through a variety of activities, students will focus on characterization, theme, and allusions in both the novel and the film. They will also explore film noir and the elements of cinema, helping them elaborate upon ideas in the novel. Overall, this unit aims to show students how these two texts work together as one "meta-art" classic.

(Developed for English, grades 9-12; recommended for English, grades 9-12)

Comments (1)

    Jennifer McDonald (Bourne High School, Bourne, MA)
    Subject taught: English, Grade: 12
    Helpful overview
    I\'ve been planning updates to our dystopic literature unit and found this unit very helpful. I had never head of DADES, and was looking for some fresh titles and connections to film. I had also been looking for a way to use Bladerunner, and am thrilled to see it broken down so well for me that I could likely utilize this in the upcoming semester and feel prepared (as there is never time to plan in my world). I\'d love a thorough training/workshop on using dystopic literature in class, if one is ever offered. It is paramount that we bring the themes of such works to the future generations.

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